Friday July 19, 2019

E-cigarettes Damage Brain Stem Cells: Researchers

Nicotine exposure during prenatal or adolescent development can affect the brain in multiple ways that may impair memory, learning and cognition

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e-cigarette, vaping
In this April 11, 2018, photo, an unidentified 15-year-old high school student uses a vaping device near the school's campus in Cambridge, Mass. Health and education officials across the country are raising alarms over wide underage use of e-cigarettes and other vaping products. The devices heat liquid into an inhalable vapor that's sold in sugary flavors like mango and mint — and often with the addictive drug nicotine. VOA

In the most damning study so far, a US research team has found that e-cigarettes, often targeted at youth and pregnant women, damage brain stem cells.

Even short-term exposure of e-cigarettes (ECs) produces a stress response in neural stem cells, which are critical cells in the brain, said the researchers from University of California, Riverside.

“Although originally introduced as safer, ECs, such as Vuse and JUUL, are not harmless,” said Atena Zahedi, first author of the research paper that appeared in iScience, an open-access journal from Cell Press.

“Even short-term exposure can stress cells in a manner that may lead, with chronic use, to cell death or disease. Our observations are likely to pertain to any product containing nicotine,” Zahedi claimed.

Present throughout life, stem cells become specialised cells with more specific functions, such as brain cells, blood cells or bone.

Using cultured mouse neural stem cells, the UC Riverside researchers identified the mechanism underlying EC-induced stem cell toxicity as “stress-induced mitochondrial hyperfusion” or SIMH.

“SIMH is a protective, survival response. Our data shows that exposure of stem cells to e-liquids, aerosols, or nicotine produces a response that leads to SIMH,” said Prue Talbot, Professor in the Department of Molecular, Cell and Systems Biology, who led the research.

Electronic cigarettes are nicotine-delivery devices that aerosolized nicotine and flavour chemicals through heating.

“The high levels of nicotine in ECs lead to a nicotine flooding of special receptors in the neural stem cell membrane,” Zahedi said.

E-cigarettes, Smokers
A woman smokes an electronic cigarette in London, Aug. 19, 2015. VOA

Nicotine binds to these receptors, causing them to open up. Calcium and other ions begin to enter the cell. Eventually, a calcium overload follows.

Zahedi explained that too much calcium in the mitochondria is harmful. The mitochondria then swell, changing their morphology and function.

They can even rupture and leak molecules that lead to cell death.

“If the nicotine stress persists, SIMH collapses, the neural stem cells get damaged and could eventually die,” Zahedi noted.

If that happens, no more specialised cells — such as astrocytes and neurons — can be produced from stem cells.

Also Read: Researchers Find Way to Make Cancer Cells Self-destruct

Damaged stem cell mitochondria could accelerate ageing and lead to neurodegenerative diseases.

The researchers stressed that youth and pregnant women need to pay especially close attention to their results.

Nicotine exposure during prenatal or adolescent development can affect the brain in multiple ways that may impair memory, learning and cognition. (IANS)

Next Story

Banning e-cigarettes But Not Tobacco is Contradictory: Industry

Studies conducted by Public Health England, Cancer Research UK and the Royal College of Physicians have observed “that vaping is at least 95 per cent less harmful than smoking and is of negligible risk to bystanders,” she said

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nicotine, e-cigarettes
FILE - A customer exhales vapor from an e-cigarette at a store in New York, Feb. 20, 2014. VOA

Even as Gujarat on Wednesday joined an increasing number of states banning e-cigarettes, a country-wide association of importers, distributors, and marketers of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) device have called upon the Union Health Ministry not to rush into a national ban unilaterally without examining the facts and consulting stakeholders.

The association, Trade Representatives of ENDS in India (TRENDS), found it ironical that several states and even the Centre were considering a ban on e-cigarettes while actual tobacco, cigarette and beedi sales was officially open, though these products were proven to be severely injurious to health.

Praveen Rikhy, convener of TRENDS asserted in a memorandum submitted to the Union Health Ministry that, “Asking for a ban on e-cigarettes and not cigarettes or beedis would mean asking for a ban on a less harmful nicotine delivery system while allowing a more harmful one free market availability”.

“This is fundamentally unsustainable as a policy or a public health imperative or even in law and consumer rights. This is also in stark contrast and regressive when compared with the fact that developed economies are regulating ENDS and many see the category as complementary to their tobacco control goals,” she added.

Rikhy went on, “Today, all G7 countries and 34 out of 36 OECD countries have regulated and formalised sale, distribution, marketing and manufacture of ENDS”.

“A ban will end up opening up the black market and create room for substandard unregulated products. It would be of utmost importance to the Health Ministry to not be seen as creating such a market scenario”, she added.

The association on Tuesday evening made a submission to this effect to Secretary of Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare with a copy to Union Health Minister Harshvardhan. It said the concerns were based on recent media reports suggesting that the Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) was likely to move a proposal to prohibit the manufacture, import, sale and distribution of ENDS, including e-cigarettes, as well as their import under Sections 26A and 10A of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.

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FILE – An anti-tobacco warning is seen on a road divider on the outskirts of New Delhi, India, Nov. 4, 2016. VOA

The TRENDS stated that these devices were not “drugs” as they are not promoted or intended to be of any therapeutic value. “They do not mitigate or prevent smoking but are an option for a habitual smoker who would like to switch to a non-combustible version.”

ENDS are micro-battery-powered devices, commonly known as e-cigarettes that simulate the sensation of smoking.

According to the association, during “the last few years, these products have emerged as a viable substitute to combustible cigarettes as they do not contain tobacco and do not involve combustion, and consequently, have significantly lower or negligible tobacco residue (commonly ‘tar’), carbon monoxide or other known carcinogens that are present in cigarette smoke.”

Rikhy said: “We believe that strong reasons exist for the government to re-examine its stand vis-à-vis ENDS. We would request the government to objectively consider the benefits and harms related to the product and initiate open consultation, which will help to better inform its decision for the ENDS category”.

Also Read: Beauty Filters on Alipay to Face Scan Payments: Report

“We are also ethically committed not to market our products to minors and pregnant women and are ready to work with the Indian Government to ensure enforcement of legal purchase age and valid label warnings, training and awareness against harmful use.”

Studies conducted by Public Health England, Cancer Research UK and the Royal College of Physicians have observed “that vaping is at least 95 per cent less harmful than smoking and is of negligible risk to bystanders,” she said. (IANS)